Reno Air

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For the air race, see Reno Air Races.
Reno Air
RenoAir logo.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded June 1990 (1990-06)
Commenced operations July 1, 1992 (1992-07-01)
Ceased operations August 30, 1999 (1999-08-30) (integrated into American Airlines; fleet disposed of in 2001)
Frequent-flyer program QQuick Miles
Parent company Reno Air, Inc.
Headquarters Reno, Nevada
Key people Joe O'Gorman

Reno Air was a scheduled passenger airline headquartered in Reno, Nevada, United States.[1] Reno Air provided service from its hubs at Reno/Tahoe International Airport in Reno, Nevada, San Jose International Airport in San Jose, California and Las Vegas International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada to destinations throughout the western United States, including Alaska. Vancouver, British Columbia in western Canada was also served at one point and limited service was operated to the midwestern U.S. as well. A small stand alone operation was also undertaken at one point in the southeastern U.S. with the service being based in Gulfport, Mississippi. Reno Air was acquired by American Airlines in 1999.


Reno Air was founded in June 1990 by Frontier Airlines alumnus Joseph Lorenzo and Midway Airlines executive Jeff Erickson. The airline's first flight was on July 1, 1992 with nonstop jet service from Reno (RNO) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in Seattle, Washington. By April 1993, Reno Air was serving the following destinations from its Reno hub with nonstop jet flights:[2] Los Angeles (LAX), Kansas City (MCI), Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP), Ontario, CA (ONT), Portland, OR (PDX), San Diego (SAN), San Francisco (SFO) and Seattle (SEA).

Following the development of its Reno hub, the airline established a second hub at San Jose International Airport (SJC) in late 1993 by leasing gate space from American Airlines.[3] According to its December 15, 1993 system route map, the airline was operating nonstop flights from San Jose to Burbank, CA (BUR), Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), Ontario, CA (ONT), Phoenix (PHX), Portland, OR (PDX), Reno (RNO) and Seattle (SEA).[4] In addition to operating jet service from its new San Jose hub, Reno Air also entered into a code sharing agreement with Mid Pacific Air to operate connecting passenger feeder service as Reno Air Express flown with British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 31 commuter turboprops with service to Chico, CA, (CIC), Eureka, CA (ACV), Klamath Falls, OR (LMT), Medford, OR (MFR), Monterey, CA (MRY), Redding, CA (RDD) and Santa Rosa, CA (STS). Meantime, American Airlines had earlier expanded its presence in the San Jose market in northern California with its purchase of AirCal (formerly Air California) several years earlier but was experiencing stiff competition from Southwest Airlines concerning air fares and desired to outsource the SJC operation to a lower cost operator. At the same time, Reno Air joined American's AAdvantage program thus allowing AAdvantage members to earn credit by flying on Reno Air. Reno Air subsequently posted its first annual profit in 1995.

While the airline flew most of its routes on the U.S. West Coast from their three hubs, Reno Air also operated a separate stand alone route system based in Gulfport, Mississippi (GPT). The Mississippi airport, which serves the local gambling casino industry, was linked with nonstop flights to St. Petersburg via St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) and Orlando via Sanford International Airport (SFB) in Florida, and also to Atlanta, Georgia (ATL). None of these four airports were linked to the rest of the Reno Air route system.[5] These Reno Air flights were operated as scheduled passenger services between GPT and PIE, SFB and ATL and thus were not charter flights.

In 1996, Reno Air adopted a new strategy to focus on the Los Angeles (LAX), Las Vegas (LAS), and Seattle (SEA) markets. It opened a reservations center in Las Vegas in 1997, and offered 25 nonstop flights a day via a small hub operation at LAS by 1998.[6]

In February 1999, Reno Air was purchased by American Airlines, and flew its last flight on August 30 of that year. At the time, the purchase was seen as a way to feed American's east-west route network with Reno Air's north-south flights, primarily through San Jose.[7] American initially retained the former Reno Air aircraft and repainted them into a modified version of the American Airlines color scheme (with a white fuselage instead of an unpainted one), but disposed of the entire Reno Air fleet in 2001 as part of capacity reduction efforts following the 9/11 attacks (this was the same case with Trans World Airlines (TWA) which American subsequently acquired). By the end of 2001 (especially after 9/11) the original Reno Air route system structure had ceased to exist with American Airlines downgrading Reno to a spoke city rather than a connecting hub.


The Reno Air fleet consisted of McDonnell Douglas MD-80 (series -81, -82 and -83 models), MD-87 and MD-90 aircraft. In addition, British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 31 commuter propjet aircraft were operated as Reno Air Express by Mid Pacific Air via a code sharing passenger feeder agreement. At the time of its acquisition by American Airlines, Reno Air operated 27 McDonnell Douglas jetliners, only two of which were actually owned by the company with the rest being leased in.[8]

Reno Air fleet[9]
Aircraft Total
McDonnell Douglas MD-81 1
McDonnell Douglas MD-82 11
McDonnell Douglas MD-83 14
McDonnell Douglas MD-87 6
McDonnell Douglas MD-90 5

Reno Air was one of the few U.S. operators of the McDonnell Douglas MD-87 and MD-90. Following its acquisition of Reno Air, American Airlines operated the MD-87 and MD-90 aircraft inherited in the takeover but then removed these types from its fleet. Currently, the only U.S. operator of the MD-90 is Delta Air Lines. The short fuselage MD-87 is currently not in operation with any U.S. based scheduled passenger airline; however, several have been converted for use as aerial firefighting air tankers.

Destinations in May of 1999[edit]

Shortly after its acquisition by American Airlines, in May 1999 Reno Air was continuing to operate as an independent airline and was serving the following thirteen (13) destinations with McDonnell Douglas MD-80, MD-87 and MD-90 jetliners according to its system route map:[10][11]

Also at this same time, the Reno Air system timetable dated May 1, 1999 listed connecting flights operated by American Eagle with Saab 340 regional propjet aircraft to the following destinations with connections being made at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) which was a focus city for Reno Air at this time:[12]

Former destinations[edit]

According to its system route maps over the years, Reno Air also operated jet service to the following destinations at various times during its existence:[13]


  • Norwood, Tom W. (2006). Deregulation Knockouts, Round Two. Sandpoint, Idaho: Airways International. pp. 54–57. OCLC 77065792. ISBN 0-9653993-2-2. 

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